Ohio lawmakers seek to make insurance companies pay for stage IV cancer


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — ​A new bill for lawmakers to consider will give the gift of time to Stage IV cancer patients.

For the past few years, it has become increasingly popular for health insurance companies to deny access to certain cancer treatments unless the cheaper ones fail first.

Stephanie Spielman battled cancer for years, and at 15, her daughter Maddie had to say goodbye to her mother.

“When you’re a cancer patient, every single second of your treatment matters and they deserve to have the individualized treatment and they deserve the best treatment, no matter what,” said Maddie Spielman, who has become an advocate for cancer-fighting legislation.

But that is not what is happening in some cases. Insurance companies are denying access to new treatments.

“For them to dictate a medication over another medication when it’s in the best judgment of the oncologist that the first medication should be used is very challenging,” said Dr. Dave Cohen, the chief medical officer for the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James.

It is otherwise known as step therapy.

“Many times, step therapy will force them to do the cheaper treatment or the treatment they’ve been doing for years, and years, and years, and to back away from the new, a lot of times, more expensive treatment, and many times, that makes sense,” said Ohio State Sen. Bob Hackett (R-London).

But, Hackett said, not every time.

“Stage IV cancer is timing is everything,” he said.

Hackett and State Sen. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) are introducing a bill that would prohibit insurance companies from using step therapy in cases of Stage IV cancer.

“Our hope in this legislation is, really, gets down to making sure that we have the most effective quality of care,” Craig said.

As for Maddie, she doesn’t want another 15-year-old girl to go through what she has.

“Cancer does not discriminate and it shows no mercy and we shouldn’t either, and I think that we all coming together under this thing is a really powerful thing,” she said.

The sponsors are trying to get health insurance companies not to oppose the bill, but they don’t expect them to fully support it, either.

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